Looking for free and budget friendly activities in Sanford, Lake Mary, or Apopka? Look no further! This area is just north of the Orlando metro area, and is more suburban. In this area, you will find many of the best springs and clear water in the central Florida region. Check out our list of some of the best things to do in Sanford & Apopka, and don’t miss the map at the bottom of the page to show you where to find them!
1. Wekiwa Springs – $6 per car
This pretty springs is a popular place for swimming, paddling, and hiking. The spring water is always a cool 72 degrees, and a nice way to cool off in the summer months. The water is clear enough to snorkel in, too! You can also camp at their campground or take a paddle around the waterways. Be aware that the park does fill up on the weekends and in the summer months, so be prepared to arrive early!
2. Tube at Kelly Springs – $3-$5 a car
Kelly springs is another one of the best budget friendly activities in the area. This spot is known for tubing. You can bring your own tube and flow down this approximately 30 min run. When you get to the end of the run, its about a 10 min walk to get back up to the start. Also at Kelly Springs is a launch for kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards, if tubing isn’t up your alley. Like Wekiwa Springs, the park does fill to capacity on the weekends and in the summer months, so plan to arrive early or visit on the off-season.
3. Lake Apopka – FREE
Lake Apopka, is Florida’s 4th largest lake. One of the most popular things to do here for bikers and joggers is the Lake Apopka Loop Trail, which can be accessed at Magnolia Park. There is a restroom on site as well. The trail is not very shady, so best for the winter season or spring.
Another fun attraction on the Lake is the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. Keep in mind, this drive did close due to COVID19, but you can keep an eye on their facebook page (linked above) for updates. The wildlife drive is a scenic 11 mile one way drive starting at Lust road on a dirt path. It takes 1-2 hours to go through, depending on your driving speed. A great place to get out in nature and view birds, snakes, and alligators!
4. Sanford River Walk – FREE
The Riverwalk is another one of the best budget friendly activities in Sanford. The wide trail runs along the southern shore of Lake Monroe. It is a paved multi-use trail and it runs about 5 miles! Take a walk, bike, or bring your dog. The trail is very close to the historic downtown area.
5. Historic Downtown Sanford – FREE
If you prefer a more urban vibe, take a walk in historic downtown Sanford. Grab a cup of coffee or a light meal at the Palette Coffee Brewery. The historic district offers many great events that occur every month, including an art walk, farmers market, food truck Friday, and first Friday with live music. Check out there events page here.
6. Mead Botanical Garden – FREE
The Mead botanical garden has a greenhouse, community garden, summer camp, and more! Take a hike around one of the shady trails, have a picnic in the park, and enjoy the scenery in the garden. During the spring (rescheduled to the fall for 2020), you can come participate in or watch “The Great Duck Derby,” where rubber ducks are raced across the pond! Admission is always free.
7. Lake Mary Museum – FREE
Looking to take in some history while in Lake Mary? Visit the Lake Mary Museum. Here you will find artifacts and photographs showcasing the history of this area of Florida. Admission is free! They do have a reduced schedule, so please see their website for details.
8. Avian Reconditioning Center – FREE
Lastly, on a Saturday, stop by and visit with the birds at the Avian Reconditioning Center. This center takes care of injured birds of prey and rehabilitates them in order for them to be released back into the wild. They have eagles, hawks, falcons, kites, and owls.
So, that wraps it up for the Sanford and Apopka area! Don’t miss our page on the nearby Mount Dora!